Arm the class, disarm the state

Workers need to be armed to destroy the violence wreaked by capitalism

Over the last week the media have saturated us with coverage of the ‘Dunblane against guns’ campaign. We have been bombarded with sanctimonious sermons about the ‘evils of violence’. This is going to be a crusade, we are told, which will unite all ‘right thinking’ people. There must never be a Dunblane, or Hungerford, ever again.

The hypocrisy and double-standards of those politicians jumping on the anti-gun bandwagon is quite staggering, as is the media’s supine connivance with all this nonsense. If these pious condemnations of the ‘gun culture’ were coming from the lips of CND members, or anarcho-pacifists, you could just about forgive it - naive, but well-meaning. However, for bourgeois politicians - such as those who enthusiastically supported the mass murder of ordinary, unarmed Iraqi civilians during the Gulf War - to try to reinvent themselves as virtual ‘pacifists’ is utterly contemptible.

The prime example of this can be found in the portly shape of David Mellor, who is in the vanguard of the campaign to ban all handguns and generally crack down on the ‘gun culture’. Snowdrop, the campaign group formed by the parents and relatives of those children brutally murdered by Thomas Hamilton, has found no greater supporter than Mellor - obviously an honourable man. No, actually, he is not. Mellor makes quite a pretty packet by acting as an arms consultant. Hand guns - wicked; weapons of mass destruction - OK, as it is good for business.

While we would not wish to cast doubt on the individual sincerity of Snowdrop members - they have all suffered from a terrible tragedy, without a doubt - communists have to unambiguously point to the reactionary and dangerous nature of this ‘anti-guns’ avalanche. If revolutionaries accept the right, no matter how grudgingly or reluctantly, of the bourgeois state to have a ‘monopoly’ over weaponry, then we are quite literally disarming ourselves. What is more, we would cease objectively to be revolutionaries, as revolution by definition is a violent act.

Communists also want to ‘ban guns’ (and all violence for that matter), but we will have no truck with the bourgeois-orchestrated anti-guns propaganda. This means that revolutionaries do not back Snowdrop, or David Mellor. Nor do we pander to the fake ‘pacifism’ of the media - or to that of society as a whole. If we did, we would ‘liquidate’ ourselves into the bourgeoisie.

The Independent on Sunday remarked: “No one but the foolhardy or the eccentric is prepared to take issue with the parents of Dunblane ... The very idea of challenging them and their views is seen by any thinking person almost as an affront to the dead” (October 20).

Perhaps this helps to explain why both Militant and Socialist Worker have beeen characteristically ambiguous on this issue. The best Socialist Worker has come out with so far is hollow liberalistic sentimentality, writing that “the only decent and sensible thing to do is mourn the dead and spurn cheap efforts to rush to quick and easy solutions” - not that this prevented it from speculating that Hamilton’s actions might be explained by the fact that he had a “sometimes successful fitted kitchen business that went bust in the mid-1980s” (March 23).

Militant also dodged the issue completely, ‘responsibly’ calling for a “complete review of all those who currently hold gun licences, and of the way gun licences are allocated”, and argued that “the democratically elected local authorities [should] be able to vet all those who want to be involved in shooting” (March 22). Comrades, exactly who is going to “review” and “vet” us?

Communists must not be afraid to be “foolhardy” when it comes to this campaign. George Robertson may think there is “no room for hand guns in a civilised society”. We would go further: there should be no room for any weapon of destruction - hand-guns, tanks, automatic rifles, nuclear and chemical weapons, etc. Therefore, we do not recognise the right of the bourgeois state to own or possess a single weapon, not even a pea-shooter or plastic knife.

But in the real world, the ruling class will not relinquish its control over this gruesome technology unless it is forced to. This will only be possible if the working class has access to the most destructive weaponry modern science has made possible - up to and including nuclear weapons - this needs to be stated openly. We must fight for our right to make revolution and defend it by any means necessary.

Unintentionally of course, The Guardian editorial succinctly summed up the true nature of this debate: “Only the police and military will be allowed to retain other hand-guns” (October 16, my emphasis). Thomas Hamilton was a dangerous madman. But the ‘civilised’ and ‘respectable’ folk who staff the imperialist British state can put him in the shade when it comes to murder and destruction. If we want to ‘ban’ violence, then we must reject the lies of the media, the hypocrisy of establishment politicians and the misguided idealism of Snowdrop. While capitalism and imperialism exists, violence will continue and grow. This we must never forget.

Eddie Ford